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  Publicity Stills of
"The Women"
(Courtesy of GV)

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Director: Diane English
Cast: Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Carrie Fisher, Cloris Leachman, Debi Mazar, India Ennenga, Jill Flint, Ana Gasteyer,
Joanna Gleason, Tilly Scott Pedersen, Lynn Whitfield, with Bette Midler and
Candice Bergen
RunTime: 1 hr 54 mins
Released By: InnoForm Media & GV
Rating: NC-16 (Some Sexual References)
Official Website: http://www.thewomenthemovie.com

Opening Day: 8 January 2009


"The Women" tells the story of Mary Haines (Meg Ryan), a clothing designer who seems to have it all – a beautiful country home, a rich financier husband, an adorable 11-year-old daughter and a part-time career creating designs for her father's venerable clothing company. Her best friend, Sylvie Fowler (Annette Bening), leads another enviable life – a happily single editor of a prominent fashion magazine, a possessor of a huge closet of designer clothes and a revered arbiter of taste and style poised on New York's cutting edge. But when Mary's husband enters into an affair with Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes), a sultry 'spritzer girl' lurking behind the Saks Fifth Avenue perfume counter, all hell breaks loose. Mary and Sylvie's relationship is tested to the breaking point while their tight-knit circle of friends, including mega-mommy Edie Cohen (Debra Messing) and author Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett-Smith), all start to question their own friendships and romantic relationships as well.

Movie Review:

The Women was a 1939 George Cukor classic acclaimed as sharp social commentary about the pampered lives of various Manhattan socialites. But to appreciate this contemporary version set similarly in New York, it’s best to set aside any expectations you may have from the original.

Instead, this update by the creator of the Emmy-award winning series Murphy Brown is clearly more heavily influenced by a certain successful TV series (and most recently movie spinoff) about the lives and loves of a particular group of friends. It’s not hard to draw such comparisons- four being the magic number here as well. Yes, I’m referring to Sex and the City- but with less comedy and more drama.

The Carrie Bradshaw of this story is a particular Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) who appears to be living a perfect life- a beautiful country home, a wealthy financier husband and a cute 11-year old daughter- until she finds out that her husband has been cheating on her with a salesgirl that sells perfume at Saks Fifth Avenue (the “spritzer girl” as what the adulterer is commonly referred as).

And just as best friends are supposed to, the rest of the quartet waste no time in rallying around Mary. There’s Sylvie Fowler (Annette Bening), an editor of a prominent women’s (what else?) fashion magazine; Edie Cohen (Debra Messing), a mother of four who’s on her way to having her fifth; and Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett Smith), a lesbian author still searching for Miss Right.

Mary’s trio of friends will even confront “Spritzer Girl” Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes doing her sultry best) in an attempt to help Mary save her marriage. Not so however Mary’s unfaithful husband who never makes an appearance in the movie. In keeping with the spirit of the original, writer-director Diane English keeps her cast all-female so the males in the story are only joked about or sniped at, but never seen around. Like its tagline suggests, it’s all about the women.

Well, actually not really. It’s more about just two women, Mary and Sylvie. The rest of the women are ostensibly sideshows to make up the numbers, and that includes Edie and Alex. Sadly, Diane English plays safe by creating two wholly familiar characters in Mary and Sylvie- Mary learns from her husband’s betrayal to start asking herself what exactly it is she wants for herself in her life and Sylvie the status-hungry career woman discovers how to stop making compromises she will regret later on just to get ahead in her career.

Indeed, unlike its much bolder predecessor, the women here are caricatures which function as poor fodder for the film’s observation of class struggle among the rich New York socialite women and the lower divisions (as exemplified by “Spritzer Girl”). Not that the star studded cast do not try. Meg Ryan and Annette Bening are fine actresses and they bring much panache to the flagging material. Unfortunately, they are let down by the story’s many contrivances.

Pity then that what could be a sharp contemporary update on a groundbreaking classic of its time ends up being just tame. It is also paler as a Sex and the City peer because what it possesses in sleekness, it lacks in wit and empathy for its characters. The disappointment is even greater; knowing that rarely has such an A-list cast has been wasted on such an ineffectual cause.

Movie Rating:

(It’s not about The Women...It’s really much ado about nothing)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. Sex And The City (2008)

. Friends With Money (2006)

. Trust The Man (2005)

. Jane Austen Book Club DVD (2007)

. In The Land Of Women DVD (2007)

. Baby Mama DVD (2008)


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